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The Extra Mile

Can I pack booze in my bag when flying with Qatar Airways?

Sunday Times Travel editor Paul Ash answers your queries

08 October 2017 - 00:00 By paul ash

Q. We are flying from OR Tambo to Philadelphia International via Doha with Qatar Airways. We want to take a gift of Amarula Cream and Cape Velvet, both under one litre each, in our check-in luggage. Can I pack it and have bags sealed before the airport or will they want to open bags and check it? - Shelley van der Poll
A. This is a question that has been cause for some vexation. The simple answer is, yes, you may transport the two bottles via Doh Hamad International in your checked baggage. Under no circumstances, however, may you bring alcohol into Qatar. As transit passengers, this naturally does not apply to you.
Qatar Airways, however, does have this disclaimer on its website: "Note that customers travelling to the US and Australia, who purchase alcoholic beverages or cosmetics in an airport other than Hamad International Airport (the italics are mine) are likely to have their beverages confiscated by ground staff at the departure gate. This is in accordance with local US & Australian regulation."
What exactly these regulations are is unclear but it is reasonable to assume that the restriction applies to alcohol bought at duty-free outlets at your departure airport, for example if you bought the Amarula at OR Tambo International after checking in and have it in your carry-on bags.As for the practicalities, pack each bottle well to avoid a certain kind of nasty "bottle shock" when you arrive at your destination.
Wrap each bottle in a separate, large towel, secure it in a layer of bubble wrap and then seal it in a plastic bag. If a bottle breaks, the towel will protect the plastic bag from the broken glass and the plastic bag will protect your clothes.
Also ensure that no part of the bottle touches the side of the case - pack your clothes around the bottles on all sides.
Travellers older than 21 may each bring one litre of alcohol into the US. For more, see the US Customs website.
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